Tag Archives: cavities

‘Freezing’ cavities a potential alternative to ‘drill-and-fill’

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore SunHeather and Eli Powell

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore SunHeather and Eli Powell

A routine dental checkup for a Baltimore 4-year-old turned into a health care odyssey for his mother.

It all began when a dentist told Heather Powell that her son Eli had several cavities, and would need to go under general anesthesia to have eight crowns placed on his back teeth. Continue reading

Percentage of adult Americans with cavities remains high, study notes

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by ktpupp via Flickr.

Although tooth decay and tooth loss have been declining in recent decades, more than nine of 10 working-age Americans have cavities in permanent teeth, a new federal report shows.

“Among adults aged 20-64, 91 percent had caries and 27 percent had untreated tooth decay,” conclude the authors of a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The data were drawn from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The survey, really an ongoing series of surveys, serves as a major tool for assessing the status of the nation’s oral health. NHANES’ size and depth make it unique. The study combines face-to-face interviews and physical examinations of a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people each year. The work is overseen by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading

Fluoridation debate continues across the country

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Is there a fluoride debate in your future?

Public health advocates hailed the 5-0 vote by the Portland, Ore., city council on Sept. 12 approving the fluoridation of the city’s water supply. Fluoride opponents jeered and swore they would fight on.

Until the vote, Portland had been the largest U.S. city that had a non-fluoridated water system. The story was all over the evening news.

Here is how NPR’s Kristian Foden-Vencil handled the decision, in a piece that came out of a reporting partnership that included NPR, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Kaiser Health News.

Mary OttoMary Otto, AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover oral health care.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to mary@healthjournalism.org.

He spoke with Kim Kaminski, of Clean Water Portland, a group which is battling the introduction of fluoride in Portland’s water.

“She cited studies to support her cause,” Foden-Vencil reported. “Perhaps the most worrisome was a 2006 Harvard study. A key finding:

“For males less than 20 years old, fluoride levels in drinking water during growth is associated with an increased risk of osteosarcoma.”

“Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer.”

But he also sought out Dr. Catherine Hayes of Health Resources in Action, an adviser to the 2006 study and co-author of a follow-up study and deconstructed the finding.

Hayes told Foden-Vencil that in the second study, “the researchers looked at samples of bone from people who had the cancer – instead of just gathering information about previous cases of the disease, as the first study had done,” Foden-Vencil reported. The researchers concluded there was no link between osteosarcoma and fluoride.

“There was no difference in the amount of fluoride in the bone,” Hayes said. “That’s really significant, because now we’re not estimating fluoride intake, we’re really measuring it.”

There is sure to be another story. Fluoride opponents have pledged to gather enough signatures to place the issue on a future election ballot.

There are stories to be written elsewhere. Phoenix, Ariz., just voted to continue fluoridating its water. Fluoridation will be put to a public vote on Nov. 6 in Wichita, Kan. In Missouri, St. Louis and St. Charles have reduced the amount of fluoride added to the city’s water supply. In Canada, the town of Red Deer, Alberta, “will decide next month whether to reduce, increase or eliminate fluoride in drinking water.” Officials in Santa Fe, N.M., are considering putting the fluoridation issue to a vote.

Are communities you cover considering fluoridation or perhaps reducing or eliminating fluoride from the water supply?

Research delves into disparities in children’s oral health

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Poor children suffer from more dental decay than their wealthier peers. In many cases, they may lack private insurance or live in communities where routine care or preventive dental treatments such as sealants can be hard to find. They may live in areas without fluoridated water or in places where tap water is mistrusted. Public health officials and advocates place great emphasis upon addressing such community needs.

Mary OttoMary Otto, AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover oral health care.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to mary@healthjournalism.org.

In fact, at a recent Capitol Hill forum on oral health Lynn Douglas Mouden, D.D.S., the chief dental officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services went so far as to say, “The combination of dental sealants and community water fluoridation can prevent virtually all decay in children.”

Yet even when community issues are addressed, family dynamics may play a deciding role in oral health disparities.

Newly published research suggests that even young children who have had the benefits of dental insurance, fluoride treatments and sealants can suffer dental decay by the time they are teens.

For a study just published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine explored what factors in the children’s past might have influenced their oral health outcomes.

They concluded that the emotional health, educational level and coping skills of their mothers could have made the difference. Continue reading